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Struggling Aussies to receive cheap NBN under bold new plan

An NBN Co. technician handles hardware in a fiber distribution cabinet during the installation of fiber-to-the-building connections in Sydney. Image: Getty

Households receiving government support would also receive substantial discounts on the NBN under a proposal designed to have ‘no Australian left offline’.

The proposal, from the peak consumer telecommunications body, ACCAN, would see eligible families pay just $30 a month for unlimited broadband, nearly half the average cost.

It should be a policy priority, ACCAN said.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury; it is an essential service that should be accessible and affordable for all Australians,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.

According to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Communication and Arts Research (BCAR), Australia’s poorest families spend nearly three times more of their income on internet than the most wealthy families.

ACCAN said the NBN has inadvertently seen the removal of many cheaper plans, disproportionately hurting poorer families.

It estimates that around one million households are at risk of not switching over to the NBN.

“Low-income families are increasingly under financial stress, particularly when it comes to cost of communications,” Corbin said.

Who’s eligible?

If anyone in your family is receiving Newstart, the Disability Support or Age Pension, you’ll be eligible.

Similarly, families on Family Tax Benefit A or who are receiving the Carer Allowance or Parenting Payment will be eligible.

And people receiving the youth allowance will also be eligible.

How will it work?

ACCAN believes it would take 12-18 months to implement the strategy, and that the program can be budget neutral if funded through offsets and savings in service delivery.

The NBN Co would charge a wholesale price of $20 per month, significantly cheaper than the current cheapest price of $45.

This price would then be offered to retailers who would sell the cheaper product to households which meet the eligibility criteria.

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